I’ve had a sort of rough couple of days, so there’s been a maybe longer than usual delay here, and my heart may not be entirely in it, but I have been watching movies for Monster Awareness Month when I could, and I think these should bring us pretty close to up-to-date. Beware, there will be spoilers for The Quatermass Xperiment, at least.
Day 7: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Heading into Monster Awareness Month, there were six or so movies on the docket that I hadn’t seen before. Of those, The Quatermass Xperiment (which I’ve been misspelling as “Quartermass” all these years) was the one I was the most looking forward to. Partly because it was a Hammer movie, and I have loved pretty much every Hammer movie I’ve ever seen, and partly because I’d heard great stuff about it, though I’ve heard even better stuff about the later Quatermass and the Pit, which I still haven’t seen.
I was not disappointed. To say that Dr. Quatermass himself was better than the monster might seem like damning with faint praise until I told you that the monster was a bodiless space vampire octopus! Let’s put another exclamation point in there for good measure! But seriously, as great as that is, it couldn’t outdo Quatermass storming around, yelling out orders and berating people. He was spectacular! I’ve heard that Nigel Kneale didn’t like this portrayal of his creation, to which I can only say that, with all due respect, Mr. Kneale was wrong.
Also interesting to me, at least, is how the monster from The Quatermass Xperiment prefigures the bodiless Ogdru Hem from Mike Mignola’s Hellboy mythos and, especially, the basic germ of The Conqueror Worm‘s plot. Good stuff!
Day 8: The Abominable Snowman (1957)
Another favorite of mine from the Hammer vaults. I’ll be talking a little more about this one over at Innsmouth Free Press later this month sometime (I’ll provide a link when it happens), but in the meantime I got a friend of mine to do a review of it for Monster Awareness Month. He’s actually a little harder on it than I would be, but my affection for Hammer films of all stripes is well-documented.
Day 9: The Fly (1958)
Could it really be the only Vincent Price movie in the whole month? Travesty! But seriously, this is a pretty classic movie, and while it’s maybe a little slow and talky to modern sensibilities, it sets up a lot of great scenes that’ve become justifiably famous. I need to catch the sequels soon, and re-watch the remake, which I remember being great but haven’t seen in years. A little surprised it’s not on the list for this month, and if I was putting together an alternate, it definitely would be.
Day 10: The Blob (1958)
Winner of the Best Monster Theme Song category, that’s probably the best thing The Blob has going for it. I mean, besides being about a giant jello mold from space. Which is quite a bit. I liked some of the miniature shots, especially toward the end with the Blob attacking the movie theatre.
Day 11: Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
This is another movie on the list that I (weirdly) hadn’t ever seen. I’d seen parts of the skeleton sequence, of course (who hasn’t?) and lots of shots from other parts of the movie, but I’d never actually watched the whole thing. Jason and the Argonauts is obviously a spiritual relation to Clash of the Titans, which I did see about a million times when I was a kid. And like Clash of the Titans, the monsters here are top notch, especially the hydra and the aforementioned skeleton army. But, like Clash of the Titans, the rest of the movie wasn’t as enjoyable. There’s some great bits, and some really interesting themes such as the gods’ realization of their own mortality, Jason’s defiance of the gods, and the futility of Palais’s acts of murder. But none of these are ever really delivered on, just sort of brought up and left hanging.
I think my favorite thing, besides the monsters of course, was the revised explanation for the armed men that burst from the hydra’s teeth being those who had been slain by the hydra. That was awesome!